Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Biological and Chemical Sciences


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ian P. Hamilton

Advisor Role

Supervisor/Principal Investigator


Gold nanoclusters with diameters in the quantum size regime (< ~2 nm) are promising building blocks for the design of novel nanomaterials as they exhibit unique size-dependent properties that can be altered and fine-tuned. The research outlined in this PhD thesis employs density functional theory to construct and analyze small ligand-protected cage and rod-shaped nanoclusters. Chapter 2 reports stable halide-protected gold nanocages that were engineered to have a closed-shell valence electron count of 18. This study finds that nanocages comprised of 19 and 20 gold atoms can be converted into stable magic number species containing 18 valence electrons by modifying their charged states via adsorption of halide ligands to the cage’s surface. Chapter 3 reports stable ligand-protected gold nanoclusters with a tetrahedral Au4 core that were engineered to have a closed-shell valence electron count of 2. This study investigates the structural and electronic effects of halide and alkoxy ligands on the tetrahedral nanocluster and concludes that the results support the broader conclusion that it’s possible to fine-tune the stability and electronic properties of small gold nanoclusters using appropriate ligands. Chapter 4 reports stable gold nanorods that have diameters in the quantum regime that were constructed from elementary building blocks that contain “halide-staples”. This study presents different orientations of the “halide-staple” motifs on gold nanorods with aspect ratios less than 5. This PhD thesis serves to highlight the versatility of halide ligands and the ability to engineer small gold clusters with desired properties.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season